The Buyers Guide to Face Masks

With thousands of face masks on the market, it can be difficult to understand what mask is best for you.  This buyers guide will help you understand what to look for in a face mask, the different levels of protection each face mask provides and give you some examples for uses so you can choose the best face mask for your needs, without having to overspend. 

 

Considerations 

Buying face masks can be a bit of a minefield so here are some things for you to consider before making a purchase: 

Comfort 

Some face masks are more comfortable than others.  There is nothing worse than being stuck on public transport in a mask that makes your face sweat and your nose run while it continually itches your face and restricts your breathing – I’m sure we’ve all experienced this at some point!  Luckily not all masks are the same.  The angled 3D face masks like this KN95 face mask is ideal for being able to breathe easily as the mask doesn’t press on your nose or mouth.  Better yet, if you are wearing the mask for a bit of time and often suffer from getting a damp face from respiration, try an angled 3D face mask with a valve like this KN95 Face mask with respiratorOf course, we also have higher quality options but these two options are at a great price point and perfect for everyday wear. 

Duration of wear 

If you have to wear a face mask for work or extended periods of time, this makes a huge difference as the ear loops can cause irritation after a while, also even the medical-grade Type IIR face masks have a life of 3-7 hours which might not keep you protected all day. Our Portwest face maskare some of the most comfortable masks we have, they also fold flat so they are easy to store when not in use and best of all they provide the highest level of protection, FFP3 (more on this below).  If you are looking for a cheaper option, we love our new reusable Type IIR masks – they are medical-grade yet washable.  Buy in a pack so you can wear one and wash one. 

Environment 

Did you know that 53 million face masks go into landfill, every day!  That’s just in the UK alone. Unfortunately, face masks are an issue when it comes to the environment as PPE cannot be recycled.  This is where washable masks help. If you are concerned about the environment and want to take action and do your bit to help, get a reusable face mask.  I’ll mention the reusable Type IIR masks again as they are so economical, give great protection as they are Type IIR and they are washable.  For professional use, there is also the HeiQ face mask which is very similar. 

Intended use 

If you only need to wear face masks inside a shop, for example, even a scarf is enough to cover your nose and mouth (that’s going by the current government guidelines which change frequently so do double check in case something has changed since we wrote this article).   However, if you come in to contact with people that are infected with coronavirus, or you work in a hair salon etc., there will be other government guidelines that apply to you and the mask you will need to wear so familiraise yourself with the requirement for your intended use. 

Practicality 

These type of questions are what you should be asking to make sure you don’t purchase a mask that irks you. 

  • Are ear loops more comfortable for you or do you prefer masks that wrap around the head?   

  • Will you need to reuse your mask a lot or are disposable masks the best option?  

  • Do you need a mask that caters to sensitive skin?  Will you want to store your mask flat when you are not using it?   

  • Do you wear makeup – if so, a 3D mask won’t ruin your lipstick. 

  • For those with facial hair, you might need a bigger mask so it feels more comfortable.  These fold-out masks are quite helpful in this situation. 

Price 

Price points can vary wildly between masks, this usually comes down to quality and protection.  If you have to wear a mask every day it could be too expensive to wear the absolute best masks on the market but this is where the washable reusable options can be a money saver.  Saying this, if your job requires a certain amount of protection this can often drive up the price point but if your health could be at risk no price is too high. 

Levels of protection 

There are lots of different levels of protection when it comes to face masks, so to the everyday person jargon like N95, FFP2 and Type IIR will be confusing, so here is a brief guide as to what these certifications mean. 

  • Uncertified face masks: A face mask that isn't certified, such as a 3-ply face mask or fashion face mask doesn’t give you any protection to the wearer but is suitable for stopping the spread of disease. This is the type of face mask the average person needs to enter a shop for example (again, this statement is according to the current government regulations that are subject to change.)  

  • Type IIR face masks: These are medical grade face masks that can be used in hospitals.  Type IIR face masks are usually disposable but as we have mentioned above, there are some washable ones that are better for the environment.  These masks provide 98% filtration and are splash-proof. 

  • N95, kN95, FFP2 face masks: These face masks provide 95% filtration. These face masks don’t fit tight to the face as the sides are open. These masks still provide some protection for the wearer. 

  • FFP3 face masks: These face masks give the highest level of protection with 99% filtration.  These face masks are usually for people that work with chemicals, have close contact with infected patients, or work with fumes for example.  However, if you have asthma or an underlying illness and are concerned about catching COVID you might want to opt for one of these masks to reduce the risk of you becoming infected. 

 

We hope this assists you in making a purchase that results in a face mask that best suits your needs.  If you have any questions or need more information we are always here to help so please just ask! 

 

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